So, what is the best solution for activists and aid organizations? In both access-friendly states and those with restrictions, campus activists are pressing university administrators to support students: to ensure flexible attendance policies in the event students need care; to establish an emergency or travel fund; to establish privacy policies that protect students seeking information; and to provide drug abortions. “Now is the time to talk to the powers that be at their university—to understand the university’s position,” Seeley says.
Tamara Marzok, director of the nonprofit Advocates for Youth Abortion Access, points out that this is also important in many blue states: When campuses in places where abortion is legal provide care to students, it eases the burden on local independent clinics — clinics that feel Pressure from out-of-state patients.
It’s still too early to know how the on-campus campaigns will go, but “I’m prepared to be surprised by some administrations that I believe are anti-abortion,” says Marzok. “We’re still very much in the summer. So we’re going to see student activism ramp up in the fall. And I think that’s when we’ll really see how the administration responds.”
Students can also vote with their feet. For some universities, a large portion of the student population comes from out of state: more than 40 percent at the University of Oklahoma and nearly 60 percent at the University of Alabama. Preliminary data shows that teenagers applying to college are avoiding schools in states that have banned them, and a July survey by an academic journal found that a quarter of high school students attending four-year colleges will attend only where abortion is legal.
URGE’s McGuire says students can help pressure legislators to craft still-evolved state laws on abortion and contraception. Some radical bans are passing, others are not.
“We have majorities in every state in this country who want abortion to be safe, legal, safe, accessible,” she says. She’s optimistic, suspecting that people underestimate the history of youth political engagement and social justice movements in the South and Midwest: “These are areas of the country that have spawned liberation movements.”
Marzok says there has been increased interest among student activists in learning about self-administered abortions, which include pills approved by the Food and Drug Administration that can be accessed through telehealth appointments and delivered by mail — though legal limits on both are still fast. developed.
“We’ve seen the sharing of information about self-administered abortions increase over the past few years, and even more so since June,” says Marzok, who works with hundreds of activists across the country. In states with bans, campus activists must follow the same rules for counseling as Yellowhammer. Advocates for Youth has seen dozens of young people teach their friends how to share the World Health Organization’s self-administered abortion guidelines, which “do not provide any kind of advice that could be interpreted as medical or legal advice,” she says. . For example, like “saying ‘the person does XYZ’ and not using ‘you’ language.”
And most of all, advocates say, it’s important to encourage students not to be afraid to seek information or help. “After all, there are many people in this country who are committed and dedicated to helping you get the abortion care you need,” says Yellowhammer’s McClain. “Without stigma, without shame, and without it ruining your life.”
Despite the strict ban on abortion, Marzok says she still finds room for optimism. “Working with the youth has given me so much hope,” she says. “I’ve seen young people remain incredibly creative through incredibly dark times.”